An index fund is a type of mutual fund or exchange-traded fund (ETF) with a portfolio constructed to match or track the components of a financial market index, such as the S&P 500. An index mutual fund is said to provide broad market exposure, low operating expenses, and low portfolio turnover. These funds follow their benchmark index regardless of the state of the markets.
Index funds are generally considered ideal core portfolio holdings for retirement accounts, such as individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and 401(k) accounts. Legendary investor Warren Buffett has recommended index funds as a haven for savings for the later years of life. Rather than picking out individual stocks for investment, he has said, it makes more sense for the average investor to buy all of the S&P 500 companies at the low cost an index fund offers.
Index funds have been around since the 1970s. The popularity of passive investing, the appeal of low fees, and a long-running bull market have combined to send them soaring in the 2010s. For 2018, according to Morningstar Research, investors poured more than US$458 billion into index funds across all asset classes. For the same period, actively managed funds experienced $301 billion in outflows.
Benefits of Index Funds:
Ultimate in diversification
Low expense ratios
Strong long-term returns
Ideal for passive, buy-and-hold investors
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